New Delhi: Pramod Mittal, known for his ventures in the steel industry, faced challenges distinct from his more renowned sibling, the tycoon behind the €20 billion ArcelorMittal SA conglomerate. His Global Steel Holdings Ltd. went into liquidation five years ago, burdened by a $167 million debt to Moorgate Industries Ltd. Despite a pending bankruptcy case, Pramod hinted at a potential payout from Nigeria to settle his debts. While a settlement with Nigeria was reached last year, Moorgate, as of October 4, had not yet received any funds, as court documents reveal.
As Pramod’s bankruptcy unfolds in English courtrooms, Nigeria has seen a change in leadership. The steel minister, in the wake of a $496 million compensation deal with Pramod’s former GSH unit, announced the government’s commitment to reignite the Ajaokuta steel mill, a colossal project plagued by decades of corruption and mismanagement. The settlement, equivalent to about 1.5% of Nigeria’s foreign reserves, adds another layer to the ongoing saga of the Soviet-built factory complex initiated 44 years ago, sparking debates on whether to revive or abandon this symbol of Nigeria’s governance challenges.
Pramod’s involvement in Ajaokuta dates back to 2004 when contracts were awarded to GSH by then-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Legal troubles ensued, with Solgas Energy Ltd., a US company, accusing GSH of breaching a confidentiality agreement and engaging in bribery. Although the case was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, a separate arbitration tribunal ordered Nigeria to pay Solgas $15.2 million in damages for the wrongful termination of the contract.
In drawing a parallel narrative, consider the story of Steve Jobs, who was ousted from Apple in 1985 amid a power struggle. Jobs, known for his aggressive management style, later admitted to being “out of control.” After founding NeXT Computer, Jobs eventually returned to Apple, orchestrating its remarkable resurgence. Similarly, Pramod Mittal’s journey, marked by legal battles and financial setbacks, may yet see a transformative chapter with the unfolding developments in Nigeria and the Ajaokuta steel mill.